San Juan County is an untapped location for a wide range of industries, with strategic advantages that exist for several target industries in particular. Inexpensive, plentiful raw materials and energy resources, coupled with a hard-working, dedicated workforce make a perfect fit for the petrochemical and other manufacturing industries. Wide open natural areas, world-class river systems and lakes lend towards numerous outdoor recreation endeavors. Nearly 300 days of sunshine and a relatively dry climate at an elevation of 5,500 feet promote a profitable climate for agriculture. The same attributes lend toward a suitable environment for a growing retirement community and the associated support industries. Taken together, new and existing businesses can find bountiful options for success in San Juan County.
Wide open landscapes, a perfect climate and plentiful water resources provide the perfect setting for outdoor recreation and the corresponding industries in San Juan County. Area leadership has come together to help entrepreneurs make their outdoor business ideas a reality. 4CED is a partner along with the City, County, Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Juan College and local industry groups in a program called the Outdoor Recreation Initiative. ORII was formed in 2018 to build a flourishing outdoor recreation economy. By focusing on the Region’s outdoor recreation amenities and attracting related businesses and industries, ORII is designed to enhance outdoor experiences and provide an extensive support system that guides, outfitters and gear manufacturers can use to increase the success.
Clean Hydrogen and Petrochemical Manufacturing
With major oil and gas discoveries in the San Juan Basin in the 1920’s, oil and natural gas have been primary economic driving forces in San Juan County. Abundant natural gas reserves and interstate pipelines are why San Juan County is one of the nation’s leading natural gas production areas. When combined with an area workforce that has expertise and state-of-the-art training in the energy resource industries at the San Juan College School of Energy, San Juan County is a natural location for clean hydrogen and petrochemical manufacturers.
Many factors combine to position San Juan County as a potential prime location for general manufacturing companies. Significant efforts are underway to promote the development and attraction of manufacturing businesses with special emphasis on outdoor recreation, petrochemicals and agriculture.
San Juan County’s largest manufacturing employer is Raytheon Missile Systems with 480 employees. Located on the Navajo Nation, the facility includes manufacturing operations and storage of missile programs such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, Javelin weapon system, and Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. Farmington’s Animas Area has a history of current heavy industrial warehousing and manufacturing and is a prime target for a light manufacturing hub of outdoor recreational goods and creative industries.
San Juan County is quickly becoming known as an attractive retirement destination. With four distinct seasons but mild winters, retirees can enjoy numerous year-round outdoor activities to maintain an active lifestyle. This is reflected in the growth of the county’s over-60 population reaching 20% in 2018.
The associated need for businesses to serve this growing population is rising as well. Healthcare tops the list, with the San Juan Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) among the top hospitals in the nation in delivering treatment for heart disease and stroke patients. SJRMC is a Certified Primary Stroke Center and has a Heart Center that is a recipient of the American Heart Association’s Lifeline Gold Achievement Award.
Water, climate and soil are perfect for growing crops like apples, alfalfa and potatoes in the valleys of the San Juan, Animas and La Plata rivers. It’s not hard to understand why the early pioneers named the new town of Farmington.
That same water, climate and soil still make agriculture big business in San Juan County. Navajo Agricultural Products Industry just south of Farmington on the Navajo Nation is the world’s largest irrigated farm. Be it an industrial-scale farm or a small family alfalfa farm, San Juan County is ideally suited to see agriculture thrive. There’s even more of a future ahead in value-added programs like food processing, agri-tourism and bio-fuel development.